I want to start off by saying it is SO much easier to go through your caterer or a bar service for alcohol for your wedding. Sure, it may cost a little more than it would if you purchased the alcohol yourself, but it’s usually worth it in the end. Most venues require you to purchase alcohol through a licensed caterer. There may be a couple that don’t have any requirements set in place, or you may be having a wedding at a private residence. Whatever the case may be if you are purchasing your own alcohol for your wedding you are responsible for the handling, set up and break down of the bar.
Your Responsibilities When Providing Your Own Alcohol
- You must get all of the alcohol to the venue (if you are having a large wedding this is going to be a lot of alcohol to have to load and unload).
- You must provide your own cups, napkins and mixers.
- You must provide coolers and serving buckets to put the alcohol in. You will need large coolers to ice down all of the beer behind the bar, as well as beverage buckets to place on top of the bar for easy access for the bartenders.
- You must provide your own ice to ice down the beer and white wine.
- You must remove any leftover alcohol from the bar at the end of the reception and take it with you. Your parents just want to be able to leave at the end of the reception and shouldn’t have to worry about breaking down a bar.
- You must remove the trash from the bar since your caterer can not touch the bar garbage if they are not providing the alcohol.
- Your caterer can’t pick up empty beer bottles sitting around the reception space if they did not provide the alcohol. This can be a big problem and you wouldn’t believe the amount of people that won’t use a garbage can at weddings to throw their plates and empty beer bottles away in.
With that being said most caterers will allow you to hire their bartenders if they are a caterer that has a liquor license, but they want to arrive on site to the bar completely set up and ready to go. They are not going to set up the bar for you if they didn’t provide the alcohol.
You could hire your own bartenders though that would set up the bar for you. I have seen this scenario a few times where the bartender will set up the bar and will ice down the alcohol for you, but at the end of the reception they are done. You are still responsible for removing all of the unopened alcohol and disposing of the empty bottles and trash.
It’s just SO, SO much easier to let your caterer or bar service handle all of the alcohol so your parents can enjoy the reception and not have to worry with the bar and trash at the end. They are tired and worn out by this point and the last thing they want to do is breakdown a bar and deal with a lot of trash.
A lot of couples don’t realize this, but there are caterers and bar service companies that offer bar packages now instead of charging you by consumption. Which means you pay a certain price per person for the bar and they provide enough alcohol for a set amount of hours, the bartenders, cups, ice, napkins, etc…they provide everything you need for the bar and handle set up and tear down. The bar package price per person is very reasonable in Meridian and the surrounding area and is worth every penny.
If you do decide to purchase your own alcohol this will help you figure out how much you really need.
For a 4 Hour Reception You Should Estimate
- 2 drinks per person for the first hour
- 1 drink per person for each additional hour
- An estimate of 5 drinks per person (or if you want to be extra safe you can estimate 6 drinks per person total. You don’t want to run out of alcohol so the more the better just to be safe)
You need to calculate how many drinks come in the bottles you are serving.
- 5 glasses of wine in a standard 750 ml wine bottle
- A bottle of beer is 1 serving
- 12 drinks in a 750 ml spirit bottle
Once you decide what types of alcohol you are serving and your guest count you can figure out how much alcohol to purchase of each type. You will know your guests better than anyone, but a lot of people will estimate 50% of guests drink wine, 25% drink beer, and 25% drink liquor. I have not found this estimate to be true at most weddings. When there is a full bar most people will choose liquor over beer and wine.
At most of the weddings we plan the bar consists of beer and wine only. A good way to look at a beer and wine only bar is to plan on 50% drinking beer and 50% drinking wine. Again, you will know your crowd the best so you will know whether the majority is beer drinkers or wine.
In the end it’s going to be much easier to let your caterer or bar service handle the bar since they will know the proper amount to get and they will make your life much easier. If you do decide to provide your own alcohol I would first suggest looking at your guests and deciding what most of them will drink then go from there. If you have a wedding planner she or he will be able to help you with this.